It is over a year ago that I last wrote about some of my concerns about the selling of mobility equipment to vulnerable older people. (See
There is vast potential for this market to be preyed upon by unscrupulous salesmen.
Now it appears that at the very same time that I was writing the blog, Derbyshire Trading Standards were investigating the miss-selling of mobility scooters after a host of complaints about REO Marketing Limited.
The company sold scooters, stair lifts, beds and wheelchairs over a wide area of England.
Their aggressive sales techniques included:-
- Long sales visits to people’s’ homes;
- Exploiting health problems;
- Falsely claiming to carry out surveys as an excuse for sales visits;
- Offering discounts for immediate orders placed
The two Directors of the company were jailed for 3 and 4 years each, but after pleading guilty they will, no doubt, be out in half that time. I am sure that does not reflect the loss and distress they caused to many of their elderly customers. I believe this example is just the tip of a very big iceberg of exploitation of older people in their own homes.
As the grey market expands, there will be many more examples like this in the future. Elderly people who can’t get out to shop, don’t have the skills to use the internet and have no close relatives to advise them – they are very vulnerable to this type of exploitation.
Trading Standards are only ever able to lock the stable door after the event. We need properly “kite marked” and trusted organisations.
ELDERLY BUYER BEWARE !
A quick search of Google using “exploiting the elderly in the UK” threw up three million results !
Products highlighted included:-
- Energy sales
- Home insurance
- Retirement housing
- Will writing
- Financial services
- Doorstep sales
- Double glazing
Footnote: Between a third and half of all cases of elder abuse cases in America involve financial exploitation.